Great Smoky Mountains Trip! Tips and advice?

I am going to see the Great Smoky Mountains in May!

We are going to fly into Charlotte and stay there for a day before driving into the mountains. We are planning to use the town of Hot Springs as our base for excursions into the National Park, sections of the A.T. and Asheville. We'll do that for 5-6 days before returning to Charlotte.

I've done a lot of research on where to eat in Asheville (I'm planning on Rhubarb and The Admiral), but would love tips on hiking trails and anything else about the area.

I am rereading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods to get in an Appalachian Trail mood!